Estadio Metropolitano Roberto Mel ndez,Barranquilla
Tuesday 17th November, 2015, 3:30 pm ET
Argentina are desperate for a win after their worst start to a World cup qualifying campaign with just two points after three games. Currently second bottom of the 10-team section seven points behind leaders Ecuador, Argentina travel to the hot and humid port city of Barranquilla knowing only three points would be sufficient to kick start their ailing campaign.
Tata Martino will be hoping his team get a similar result like the one four years ago which launched them on the road to the 2014 World Cup finals. In 2011, Alejandro Sabella’s side arrived at the Metropolitano stadium fresh from a humiliating 1-0 defeat in Venezuela. Down by a goal and a man at halftime, Argentina produced a great comeback to clinch all three points. A similar display of character will be required tomorrow as well although they will be without their talisman Lionel Messi this time.
For Colombia, this match represents a big chance to steer clear from a crowded pack. With just four points, Colombia are in a three-way tie for fourth place in the conference. They need a positive result after going winless in two straight games. After starting their campaign with a home win over Peru, Los Cafeteros were thrashed 3-0 by Uruguay and came away with a respectable draw away at Chile on Friday. They have found it hard to win matches recently managing just one victory in their last six i xtures played (90 minutes); four of those having been drawn.
Team news and tactical brief
Colombia had an extra day to prepare for the encounter after Argentina’s game against Brazil was delayed for 24 hours due to heavy rain. Coach Jose Pekerman called his star player James Rodriguez to showcase his extraordinary talent. The Real Madrid man proved his fundamental worth to the side after scoring his countrya s lone goal to cancel out Arturo Vidala s first-half header to pull Colombia level. Pekerman is missing striker Radamel Falcao, who was ruled out with a muscular problem.
Colombia will be without Jackson Martinez ruled out by an ankle sprain suffered against Chile. Carlos Sanchez and Santiago Arias will also be unavailable for selection due to an accumulation of yellow cards.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-3-3): Ospina(Gk); Zapata, Palacios, Fabra, Murillo; Guarin, Mejia, Torres; Rodriguez, Muriel, Bacca
Argentina have 15 games to recover from their disappointing start and they have Lionel Messi, Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero to return (not against Colombia though). So there is reason to believe that they will bounce back but still there should be concerns around this sluggish start which means direct pressure on the coach Gerardo Martino. Argentina were the better side on Friday but failed to convert their chances and had to pay for the lack of incisiveness. A draw against arch rivals Brazil is usually an acceptable result but given the situation of the standings now that result will genuinely represent a missed opportunity for the Albiceleste. The lack of cutting edge with all the star-studded names in the lineup is pretty surprising and Martino must find a solution quickly. He could be fired if Argentina fail to pick up a win against Colombia. With the next qualifying round not coming until March, anything other than a win would leave the team rather short early in the World Cup campaign.
Argentina have been dealt further injury concerns with Gonzalo Higuain (foot injury) and Erik Lamela (muscle fatigue) both missing the training on Sunday. Facundo Roncaglia will be missing through a suspension as well.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-4-2):Romero(Gk); Mercado, Mori, Rojo, Otamendi; Biglia, Di Mar a, Mascherano, Banega; Higua n, Lavezzi
Colombia have won just one of their last nine matches against Argentina, that being a 2-1 home win in the 2010 World Cup Qualii ers (played in 2007).
Argentina are unbeaten in their last four games against Colombia, winning their last World Cup qualii er encounter 2-1 back in 2011.
Three of the last four meetings between Argentina and Colombia have ended 0-0, including their clash at this yeara s Copa America.
Players to Watch Out For
James Rodriguez (Colombia)
Colombia’s main threat comes from James Rodriguez, who equalised in the 1-1 draw away to Chile on Thursday. Rodriguez missed the opening two qualifiers through injury but is fit now and will be expected to lead the line against Argentina tomorrow. Colombia lie sixth in the table, two points clear of Tuesday’s rivals.
Ezequiel Lavezzi (Argentina)
Lavezzi, who scored the goal against Brazil, always works hard although not necessarily with great focus but he will be have to shoulder responsibility on Tuesday as Argentina will be most likely be without Gonzalo Higuain who joins Messi, Aguero and Tevez on the injury list.
Colombia 1a 1 Argentina
Argentina will have to contend with the heat, which can top 30 degrees celsius and Colombia will try to benefit from this by staging the match in mid-afternoon. To play Brazil at home and then Colombia away in the space of five days is tough. Colombia are a pretty tough side to beat and one can say they had an off day against Uruguay. They are strong at home, and will be eager for the win here as that will see them take a i ve point lead over Argentina.
Blast From the Past
Four years ago, Argentina faced Colombia in Barranquilla in their fourth game after a sluggish start to their qualifying campaign. They won 2-1 to restore morale which eventually set them on their way to topping the group.